Author Archives: Syracuse Improv Collective

3rd Annual AFSP Fundraiser Event

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-2-29-40-pmWe are humbled to welcome you to our annual fundraiser show. On October 22nd at The Vault, all proceeds for the evening will go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is a cause that is dear to many of us. Representatives from the organization will be there to speak to the work they do in education, advocacy, research, and support. We hope you will give generously with us.

We are pulling out all the stops this year for a fun variety show, including our guest host: 107.9 radio personality and AFSP advocate Anthony DeMario. The players include:

Tin Can Toucan Twin Cantina – kick-butt folk music
Andrea Springer – kick-butt stand-up
Heavy Metal Heat Wave
Satan’s Closet

In the face of the darkness, we offer our little spark – a raucous reminder of our love for life, a claim for hope in the face of depression and the stigmas surrounding mental illness.

10/22 – 8 PM
The Vault – 451 S. Warren St
$5 Minimum Donation
All proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Our 5th Birthday – Why Long Form?

Greetings, comedy lover!

We are pleased to invite you to our birthday bash show. All of the Collective’s famous teams will perform, including our lovely new addition, MATHED POTATOES. First come, first get-to-eat cake! And cookies.

9/23, 8PM @ The Vault
451 S. Warren St
image cred: U of MN

It’s been a super first five years for our Collective. On the occasion of our birthday celebration, I thought you might like this post by one of our founders, Mike Intaglietta. Enjoy:

Why Long Form?

If you grabbed someone off the street and asked them, “What’s comedy improv?” they would almost certainly pull away sharply and possibly scream. You’d be lucky if they didn’t press charges. Don’t grab people off the street. This is a society.

But even if you politely approach someone on the street, ask them for a moment of their time in recognition of the fact that we all lead busy lives, and ask them “What’s comedy improv?” you’re still likely to be met with a questioning look. All experienced improvisers know that there’s only one follow up that will elicit a positive response at this point:

“Like Whose Line is it Anyway?

Whose Line, the original British version and its American descendant, has done incredible things for the popularity of improv. It brought a niche performance art form into the living rooms of hundreds of thousands of homes (I guess… I don’t follow TV ratings) complete with recognizable names and faces. But it’s also cemented the idea that improv is just one thing: short form games. This can be tricky for those who do another thing: long form.

For the uninitiated, short form consists mostly of individual, 2-5 minute games with an assortment of rules and restrictions, and often incorporating audience participation. Long form describes varying ways to connect scenes together into one coherent theatrical piece. Definitions and preferences may vary, but the principles of improvisation apply equally to both short and long forms.

Because of the (relative) popularity of short form, we at the Syracuse Improv Collective are occasionally asked why we’re so dedicated to long form. Well, I’ll tell you.

Long form rewards the dedicated performer by allowing players to have complete creative control over the piece they will develop together. The form allows for the creation of rich and dynamic characters, for the development of themes, and for the telling of one or more stories. And none of those freedoms preclude the playing of games within the structure of the form. But the choice of what game to play, how to play, or even if it should be played resides with the players, not the requirement of an emcee.

And long form rewards the engaged audience member. That bit of information a player casually introduces in the first few minutes of a set might make its triumphant return in the last few minutes. A character’s growth may slowly develop and change them, and the audience gets to watch it happen. The audience gets to try to figure out where a scene is going and be delighted when they’re right or even more delighted when they’re wrong.

Long form is improv without a net. Players are not provided the benefit of an inherently funny premise, or with the sweet relief of a 2-3 minute time limit should things not click. There’s a thrill to starting a set with nothing except your wits and your teammates and creating something from the ground up.

We hope you can make it to our birthday show! We delight in our community, perhaps even more than our improv. Thank you for making the last 5 years so much fun.  

We Were on TV!

Thank you to Channel 9’s Bridge Street show for hosting us this morning. In case you missed it, here are links to our two segments:

An Intro to Improv

Playing Busted Tee with the Hosts

Thanks again to Sistina and TeNesha for being good sports and supporting our antics.

If you’re new to the SIC, we would love to see you at one of our upcoming shows (9/23) or at a drop-in class (8/23). Improv is a great opportunity to play, make new friends, become a better listener, and occasionally be funny.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 2.17.52 PMPhoto credit: channel 9 WSYR


Free Library Show – 7/22

Come one, come all!

This Friday night, the SIC will perform at the Marcellus Free Library at 7 PM in an all-ages show. Expect free popcorn and laughs, and bring a lawn chair – the show will be outside! Admission is also free. Whoopee!

For an inside scoop, check out this lovely interview from the Auburn Pub, featuring our very own Chris Malone.

In other news, drop-in classes are very fun. Over a dozen students come each time, many of them new to improv. The next class at CFAC is August 2nd at 6:45 PM. Hope to see you there!


Discovering Improv – A Painter’s Canvas

SIC Grad Women Show

The level 3 graduates’ June show performance was stellar. A few of the newly-minted Collectivists were inspired to write about their experience and share it with you. Here’s Michelle Kivisto, reflecting on the great time she’s had so far:

On a Saturday morning in late February, I walked into a studio space to start Level 2 Improv with the Syracuse Improv Collective.  I met my teacher, Mike, and found a spot to sit as other students entered the room.  It was a space the size of an alleyway, but brightly lit by sunlight from the windows which was reflecting off the white walls and green couches lining the room.  

Class started when we were asked to stand up and begin a warmup. Our task was to pass a snap.  A simple enough task, but with added layers.  You could not begin to snap your fingers until someone passed their snap to you, and you then had to “catch” it, and continue to snap your fingers, until you passed it to someone else.  People personalized their snaps, bouncing them on the floor, juggling them, throwing it in the air and then twirling around and catching it.  All quite theatrical.  But all that was required of anyone in the circle was the ability to snap our fingers and make eye contact with someone to catch and pass the snap.  In reality, we were watching air pass from one person to another. But on that day, in that moment, we were watching a circus act with actual snaps being exchanged between people.

That was the beginning of a magical journey.  I went into a white walled studio but emerged a painted canvas. Each week added more color, more definition. After Level 2 ended I immediately registered for Level 3. In Level 3 I was given tools to start painting the canvas myself, sometimes with other people holding the brush as my scene partners, until eventually with a lot of practice I became a paint by number grid in which I could clearly see where to put the paint next.

As with anything new, the only way to keep from forgetting what you have learned is to practice.  Drop in classes provide a way to meet new people, some of which have never tried improv before, and reunite with improv classmates and teachers. If you are hesitant to sign up for classes or attend a drop in, I can say from experience that everyone is a blank canvas.  Add some color to yours.

Thanks, Michelle. Registration is currently open for level one class, and you can join us for drop-in classes bi-weekly at the Community Folk Art Center. Follow us on Facebook for more details!

Look out below! SIC Launches Drop-in Classes

You asked for it…

Syracuse Improv Collective is pleased to offer drop-in classes this summer! Every other Tuesday, pop in for a 2-hour workshop from a variety of seasoned improv teachers. This is a fun, low-commitment way to try improv, or get a refreshing fresh refresh. You will meet fun new people and get a chance to play with super-supportive veteran performers. It’s like a one-room school house without corporal punishment or stoking the wood stove for warmth!

The Community Folk Art Center has graciously opened their doors to us, and the space is perfect for class. Come to 805 E Genesee Street (near Syracuse Stage) and bring $10 and a fun attitude. We can only keep this super-cheap if you show up, so bring a friend too!

So far we’ve had classes by Mike Borden (scene work) and Phil Gross (intro); we hope to see you on May 24 for Amaya’s terrific teaching debut. This will be one of Amaya’s last appearances with the SIC before moving out of state, so let’s keep that wood stove going!

Drop-in classes for all experience levels
@ 805 E Genesee – Community Folk Art Center
Upcoming schedule (bi-weekly Tuesdays): 5/24, 6/7, 6/21, 7/5, 7/19, 8/2, 8/16, 8/30.

old-wood-stove 2

Okay but seriously it’s really comfortable in CFAC. You won’t need to wear extra layers or anything.

Welcome, Citizens of Syracuse!

If you just learned about us from the recent article, thanks for stopping by!

Based on all the attention we’re getting, the members of the Syracuse Improv Collective have decided to quit their jobs and pursue improvisational comedy full time. Sorry, family! We’re working for laughs now.

Here are some cool facts about the SIC for the uninitiated:

1) We love to laugh
2) Ken Keech is a UNC alum and fan of their basketball program
3) Improv is fun and we offer classes

Come on down to our next show! It’ll be May 6 at the Vault – 451 S. Warren St – just 5 bucks for comedy gold.


This Post Is Not A Joke (Or A Bit)!

Need a vacation from internet gags on April Fool’s Day? Come on out to our monthly Bank Show! Every show is a special night of comedy magic. We are so grateful to have a community of improvisers and fans who love to have fun. The details:

Friday, April 1 – 8 PM
@ The Vault – 451 S. Warren St, Syracuse – $5 Entry


Bring some willing friends and join us for a jolly good time – RSVP on facebook.


March 5 Bank Show, Y’all

Some people just want to watch the world burn…and some people wish Bank Shows were on Saturdays.

The time has arrived. Come on down to The Vault – 451 S. Warren – at 8PM this Saturday. $5 gets you an apocalyptically funny show:

Thank You, Kiss
Satan’s Closet

We’ll be LoL’ing all the way to extinction.



What I Learned From My Level One Improv Class

Pass the Sound & Motion!

The Level One students prepare to amaze the audience at our February Bank Show

Our first round of Level One improv classes just ended this past weekend. I am a little sad these great students are out of my care now, but real happy they registered for level two. I knew that teaching Level One would be fun, but I did not anticipate how much I would learn from the students.

As the class grew more comfortable and made friends together, I watched them dive into scenes with a spontaneous courage; they displayed greater trust and listening than I had felt in my own performances for several months. It was inspiring to watch so much fresh talent ride the raw joy of improv and create truly funny scenes.

I asked the class what they learned from taking level one improv. Here are their responses:

“Improv level 1 helped me learn to be more open. The reasons I took the class were to learn to think faster and feel more comfortable communicating with people in a fun and safe environment.  I learned that by letting go of my own agenda and my own rules for how I wanted a scenario to unfold naturally increased my response time.  Plus it helped me feel like I had a really great connection with whoever I was working with, which helped me feel more comfortable communicating in class as well as out in the rest of the world.” – Karen Kwasnowski

“Improv taught me that I don’t always have to plan and overprepare for everything in life. If I just show up with a good attitude and work with the people around me, things will get done.” – Manu Shergill

“I learned that I am a failure. And that there are other people in the world who enjoy failing just as much as me. And also that it makes sense to band together with these people, and fail together.” – Jim Green Ed. Note – Our class mantra is ‘We suck, and we love to fail!’ 

“I learned that improv is really about effective communication. If you are not listening to the direction your partners are offering, and are focused on your own vision, you won’t hear where the story is going. And to be able to build on the story, you need to clearly relay your vision to the others. The clearer the messages are, the further you move together.” – Jill Tibbett

“I learned to slow down and to try follow the flow of others. I noticed that I tend to take control of  the situation way too much and that I need to curb my nature in order to allow others to express themselves.” – Bob Goodfellow

“I found improv class influenced every part of my life in a good way.  I am able to see people’s offers in life much better.  I see that simple is fun and funny, which is great.  I am way more open to the ordinary as a launching place for fun and frolicking. I loved improv level one.” – Becca Scanlon

Thanks again to these students and the rest of our class for a great six weeks. I wish you all well for Level Two and will gladly see you around in the future.

Level One classes will be offered again in a few months. Stay tuned to this space and follow us on facebook for more info.